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  • Immagine del redattoreCristina Bombelli

Women’s Career: The Long Road - All you need to know to succeed

Aggiornamento: 22 apr 2020

After graduating in philosophy and different work experiences in companies, I started to do some research as I was interested in the study of organizational behaviour. This soon led to working in the School of Management of the Bocconi University in 1985 where I have taught for years in all the different courses in the school; where I noted that especially in the top courses like executive manager, I was often the only woman teaching executives such as CEO and managers, who were all too often male.

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It was a clearly visible phenomenon from my point of view and in some way I felt quite self conscious.

Since then, in my research on organizational dynamics and on people’s behaviour in the workplace, there has always been that crucial question, to try to understand why women do not get ahead.

At the end of the ’90’s I founded together with a group of colleagues, a research centre on Diversity Management, with the aim of trying to understand why women, despite the fact that they work with great commitment and most of all are well educated, are not able to break through that glass ceiling, that invisible barrier which keeps them at arm’s length from places of power.

In all these years at some point in my teaching and research I have collected many women’s voices not only during my many encounters in the lecture room, but also as a coach; as over the years I have coached many women, even in high organizational positions.

What has always amazed me in the stories that I have put together is that they are basically all the same: there are some worries and difficulties that are very similar, independent of one’s nationality.

I remember for example speaking to a young Chinese friend who was fascinated by what I did, and after listening to me she said: “I thought they were my problems. I have never spoken to anyone about this as I was afraid of being judged as weak or insecure, but in reality it is exactly what happens to me”.

I have taken down the experiences of European women, Americans and Asians, and the recurrent themes are exactly the same. ,

It is difficult to say why: maybe in the world as a whole the entry of women into the world of work is a relatively recent phenomenon, as in the past work was in the domestic sphere with outside contributions to the family budget which consisted of growing vegetables and keeping pigs or poultry. Only with the coming of the industrial revolution, did women enter the workplace and this is a relatively recent story.

If one puts it on a par with power, then this is an even shorter collective story.

One must not forget too that in the world there are many social and political realities, which exclude women, condemning them to a future of isolation and economic dependence.

The reflection which this book puts forward however concerns women in organizational contexts, in which theoretically women should be given the possibility to get ahead in their career and reach the top.

This book is aimed at being a really concrete help for women. Throughout the book I have tried to underline the greatest difficulties, together with the enormous obstacles they must face.

In the chapters on organization, I have drawn from my academic background endeavoring to give women some mind maps in order that they can cope with the working world and careers.

In the end I will try to give practical suggestions which are linked to some theoretical aspects.

The hope is that women who read this book will be able to have a clearer idea of the different options and prices they will have to pay.

Having a clearer picture of the situation before can help, but one cannot get away from the fact that the path a woman will have to take and face in the work place will be without doubt a challenge.

My personal opinion, which should be seen as an encouragement is that one’s career path in the world of work can be wholly satisfying giving one many positive emotions Of course it is not easy and not for everyone: the first rule is that each person should be able to listen to one’s needs and evaluate one’s objectives, without losing hope, but without overestimating the challenge. If it is too hard it is better to let go. The important thing is to decide by oneself instead of being forced by others or by external circumstances.

From an organizational point of view, it is a good thing to remember that it is a good thing not to give power to others: only in high positions one can make decisions that can really change things .It is a fact too that leaving the power exclusively in the hands of men means excluding not only women, but also their point of view.

Lets try to remember this when the going gets really hard.

Chapter 1 - How work changes

Work beyond the salary - The joy of creating - Building a personal path - Working with others - Common values

The Work of women and men What we would all like?

Chapter 2 - Looking for a new female identity

Always beautiful! Empathy: Strengths and limits of the female sex A special relationship Giving life The passion for work The collective identity Finding a balance

Chapter 3 - The difficulties of women

Living on the borders There is never enough time! In the eyes of others Games which are not enjoyable The weight of responsibility and the backbone of power At the centre of the stage The isolation of the manager Asking This job is not for me

Chapter 4 - A man’s world

How organizations work Spontaneously male The culture of time Organizations as battle grounds The implicit rules to get ahead Imperative: cut the costs Friendly organizations and unfriendly organizations

Chapter 5 - The errors of women

What do they think of me? Looking for approval Insufficient self esteem Overestimating conflicts Perfect at what ever cost How to manage power? Why her and not me? Female envy Going native: the virago model The chain of wounds

Chapter 6 - Learning to get ahead

How to accept one’s appearance and one’s diversity to improve self esteem Knowing oneself The power of empathy Overcoming relational pollution Playing with different identities The right aggressiveness required A slow speed Finding a mentor or a coach, but becoming a guru of oneself Building a network Working for a new power Finding an organization which accepts a challenge Chapter 7 - Taking the female point of view into the work place

What change? Change in organizations Change in people A new exchange between people and organizations Learning to listen Temporal horizon and ethical dimension Work and life balance The alessitimic organisations A shadow less power? Invent a leadership Flexibility and security, precariousness and identification

Chapter 8 - Looking for a new way of working


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